The 20 Highest-Paid Celebrities of 2015

If you work hard, do your job well and you happen to be in the public eye, the rewards can be extremely lucrative – as the following celebrities know all too well. These are the 20 highest-earning sportspeople, singers, actors and entertainers, according to Forbes’ 2015 list on the topic. And they all made more money in one year than most of us will bring home in a lifetime.

20. David Copperfield

The most successful magician in the world, David Copperfield made an impressive $63 million in the past year. His continuing Vegas run, award-winning TV shows and record-breaking ticket sales have all contributed to his popularity and wealth.

19. Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake continues to creep up the Forbes list, having broken into the top 20 in 2015 with earnings of $63 million. As well as being a successful solo artist, he has writing and production credits for other artists including Beyoncé and, posthumously, Michael Jackson.

ADVERTISEMENT

18. LeBron James

One of the most popular athletes in America, LeBron James made $65 million in 12 months, $44 million of which came from sponsorship deals alone. His estimated net worth is a humongous $425 million, which has helped the NBA star earn the nickname “King James.”

ADVERTISEMENT

17. Calvin Harris

In 2004 Calvin Harris was unemployed and broke, posting solo tracks to his MySpace page. Today, thanks to award-winning hits like “We Found Love,” he holds an incredible fortune. Harris made $66 million this past year. It’s a real rags-to-riches fairytale.

16. Roger Federer

Roger Federer has earned $67 million in just one year, a hefty $58 million of that coming solely from endorsements. After 17 years as a pro, the tennis star is still ranked number two in the world, so sponsors continue to clamor for his signature.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

15. Dr. Phil McGraw

TV’s Dr. Phil made $70 million during the period we’re dealing with, and he continues to be the world’s highest-paid health professional. McGraw often uses his wealth for good, too; his Dr. Phil Foundation supports underprivileged families, while other money goes to disaster relief efforts.

14. The Eagles

Aging rockers the Eagles took in $73.5 million from mid 2014 to mid 2015, moving up the Forbes list in the process. Their mammoth “History of the Eagles” tour earned them a chunk of this figure, with fans paying a premium for tickets to what could be their last ever tour.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

13. Lionel Messi

Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi’s basic yearly salary is in excess of $44 million, making him the top-earning player worldwide. With sponsorship earnings of up to $30 million thrown in, the talented athlete’s $74 million overall paycheck lands him 13th place on Forbes’ list.

12. Ellen DeGeneres

As the highest-paid TV celebrity, Ellen DeGeneres brought home a whopping $75 million in the past year. The savvy “Queen of Daytime” found new opportunities as a producer as well as a website and app developer.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

11. Rush Limbaugh

Controversial but popular radio host Rush Limbaugh took home $79 million in the past 12 months. He’s one of the best-compensated personalities in the whole of American broadcasting; indeed, an eight-year contract for $400 million will take him through to 2016.

10. Cristiano Ronaldo

In roughly 365 days Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo earned $79.5 million. How did he spend that money? Well, as reported in Spanish sports website Mundo Deportivo, it’s alleged that he purchased a Greek island to give to his agent as a gift for getting married.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

9. Taylor Swift

As well as having become the youngest ever person to feature on Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women” list, Taylor Swift has earned an $80 million annual paycheck that lands her ninth position in the highest-paid celebrity ranking. And, interestingly, upon learning that a young fan is fighting leukemia, Swift gifted $50,000 to the girl’s fundraising efforts.

8. Robert Downey, Jr.

The popular Robert Downey, Jr. remains the highest-paid actor worldwide for the third consecutive year. Half of his $80 million bank has reportedly been for the yet-to-be released Captain America: Civil War, and this is particularly impressive given that Iron Man isn’t even the lead role.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

7. James Patterson

Prolific author James Patterson has written and co-written a staggering 150 books since 1976, amassing 300 million in sales. The 16 reads he’s turned out in this period earned him a colossal $89 million in the past year alone, making him the world’s highest-earning author.

6. Garth Brooks

Country music star Garth Brooks has shifted more albums in America than even the Beatles. And thanks in no small part to his long-awaited concert tour, he’s made $90 million in the past 12 months and is expected to do just as well next year.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

5. Howard Stern

Radio star and America’s Got Talent host Howard Stern made a whopping $95 million this past year. Yes, the self-proclaimed “King of All Media” has done pretty well for himself – and not even just in matters regarding money; he’s married to the very good-looking Beth Ostrosky.

4. One Direction

It’s hard to believe that a boyband could earn double the income of a band as enduring as the Rolling Stones, but One Direction did just that in the past 12 months. Despite the upset of Zayn Malik’s departure, they still netted a cool $130 million between them.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

3. Katy Perry

Katy Perry quickly squashed rumors that she paid to play in 2015’s Super Bowl halftime show. Despite the star receiving zero remuneration for that appearance, though, her massive Prismatic World Tour earned her a spectacular $135 million, with fans spending an average of $20 each at the merch booth.

2. Manny Pacquiao

The biggest sporting event of 2015 was undoubtedly the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao bout. Runner-up on the night – and on Forbes’ list – Filipino Pacquiao earned a gargantuan $125 million for the match-up, helping bring the boxer a yearly total of $160 million.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

1. Floyd Mayweather

No one has beaten Floyd Mayweather in 2015, either in the ring – as all have failed to do during his career – or in income. Mayweather’s mid 2014-to-mid 2015 earnings of $300 million make him the highest-paid sportsman of all time, more than doubling Tiger Woods’ previous best. A nice retirement fund for when he’s expected to hang up his gloves in September. Maybe he could take up golf.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT